Notre Dame Logo

Center for Social Concerns


Ganey Collaborative Community-Based

Research Seed Grant Recipients 2011


Evaluation of the “Talk with Your Baby” (TWYB) Program



TWYB Evaluation Committee

Suzanne Christensen

The Family Connection

Velshonna Luckey

Robinson Community Learning Center

Susan Cress

Indiana University, South Bend

Ann Rosen

The Family Connection

TWYB Task Force Co-Chairs

Nancy Ickler

Asante Foundation, Inc.

Terri Kosik

Early Childhood Development Center


Julie Braungart-Rieker

Center for Children and Families

Jennifer Burke Lefever

Center for Children and Families

Jeanne Mattei

Center for Children and Families


Children in the first three years of life need an abundance of verbal interaction. The amount of time that parents and other caregivers talk with infants correlates strikingly with later measures of cognitive development and reading readiness. Verbal interaction and encouragement from parents also builds healthy attachment relationships and social skills. Previous research has shown that children born in poverty have a smaller and less complex vocabulary, language delays, speak less to others, and are less likely to be able to answer complex questions. In 2009, nearly half (48%) of the 4,582 infants born in St. Joseph County were born to families living at the poverty level.

In 2009, the Memorial Health Foundation Research and Development Committee created the Talk with Your Baby (TWYB) program to educate parents and other caregivers about the importance of talking with babies and small children, birth to age three. Currently, over 30 organizations are participating in designing and/or delivering the TWYB program. This project will evaluate the program to test if the intervention worked, how eff ective it was, and for whom the intervention was most or least eff ective.

The research team will administer pre- and post-test surveys to participating parents in the TWYB program to determine if parents learn the material presented in the program and compare the pre-and post-test results with parents who have not yet attended the program. The results of this evaluation will be used for program improvement and are expected to assist with future program decisions such as program expansion. It is expected that these results will be shared with the local community as well as at national conferences.


"Breaking the Cycle of Poverty"


Bonnie Bazata
Cathy Lenoir
Baye Sylvestor
Leah Zimmer

Bridges Out of Poverty


Ines Wenger Jindra

Visiting Research Scholar

Michael Jindra

Visiting Scholar, Anthropology

Colleen Reiss

Graduate Student

Forces that contribute to poverty can be categorized in three broad areas: structural, cultural, and individual. Research has tended to focus on structural forces—such as the economy and jobs, neighborhood segregation and decline, and discrimination. Less attention has been given to cultural factors, such as family interactions; daily habits and attitudes; consumption and work patterns and motivations; and specific dynamics of neighborhoods, peer groups, and social networks. The Bridges Out of Poverty“Getting Ahead” curriculum focuses on these cultural factors.

The Ganey Mini-Grant team will examine how the St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty organization works in the local community to assist low-income individuals and families in the form of a program effectiveness evaluation. Specifically, they will examine if and how graduates of the Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-by-World are able to build resources, develop agency, and exercise new strategies and behaviors to move more consistently and effectively toward financial self-suffi ciency. This research will also examine the primary obstacles to self-sufficiency for participants, and how the Bridges Out of Poverty program is helping to overcome these obstacles. The research team will utilize several methods in evaluating the effectiveness of the program, including semi-structured interviews and participant observations as well as tools already in use to evaluate program eff ectiveness. The results of these interviews will be used for program improvement as well as to add to the knowledge-base regarding the cultural forces aff ecting poverty and the struggles to succeed.

The results of this study will be presented to the entire national network of Bridges Out of Poverty affi liated organizations, currently numbering over 40, along with interested local organizations and shared directly with participants in the study. It is also expected that the results will be submitted to a scholarly journal for publication as well as presented at national conferences on poverty, inequality and diversity.



"Improving Infant Health in St. Joseph County"

2013 Update on Improving Infant Health in St. Joseph County


Jamie Reinbold
Sue Taylor

St. Joseph County WIC Program
Memorial Hospital


Jeanne Mattei

Center for Children and Families

Kristin Valentino


Michelle Comas
Anne McNeill
Amy Nuttall

Graduate Students

Infants who are born prematurely and underweight are at greater risk of long term health and learning problems. Our local rates of poor birth outcomes for low-income women and racial disparities related to infant health are signifi cantly worse than state and national rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links adverse childhood experiences (ACE) to increased risk of a multitude of poor health outcomes in adulthood. Adults who were exposed to violence and other traumatic stressors as children are more likely to suffer from alcoholism, depression, liver disease, illicit drug use, domestic violence, heart disease, and many other health and social ills. THere is good reason to believe there is a link between a woman’s ACE history and her future reproductive outcomes. Women exposed to trauma as children may be more likely to give birth to low birth-weight infants. The purpose of this study is to determine the extent to which a history of childhood trauma and/or stressors is related to a woman’s reproductive outcomes. Five hundred women receiving services from the St. Joseph County WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program will be screened to identify any and all recalled instances of childhood trauma as well as current health issues that may affect birth outcomes. The women will be followed at their WIC appointments at the first visit after the birth of their infants and birth outcome data will be collected. Two hundred women will continue to be followed at 6-month and 12-month WIC appointments to inform researchers about the infants’ cognitive, social, and emotional development through the first year of life.

Findings will be presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Annual Meeting and to submit the findings to the Journal of Traumatic Stress. The results of this study, will be used locally to design trauma-focused programming for pregnant women with a significant history of ACEs. Success will be measured longitudinally, by tracking county-level birth outcome data in the years to come.



The site you are visiting is designed with web standards. This note was made visible to you because you are on a non-traditional device or are using an outdated browser. You may only view the content of this site. Please visit Notre Dame Web Central's browser upgrade page for a list of browsers that supports web standards.